Curtis Dahlgren
HOME AGAIN: The original twin towers, still standing!
By Curtis Dahlgren
April 15, 2015

"Reach down as well as up. No roots, no branches." – "Things Trees Know" (Douglas Wood, Adventure publishing)

THERE THEY WERE. One was made of field stone. The other of cement blocks. The barn was long gone, but silos are seldom torn down. Across the road was a one-room country school. It's still there too, converted to a home. I once visited that school for a spelling bee. I blew that one by misspelling, of all things, chocolate. I smiled to myself as I shifted down to make a right turn in my Honda. Times may have changed but I spent the past winter back in my childhood "hood."

My dad didn't have a Honda, but we had a 39 Hudson. We didn't have a Mr. Rogers in the neighborhood, but we had Cushmans and Rockwells. Shoot, liberals hate the America of Norman Rockwell, the only artist they couldn't stand. Because he reminds them of better days. Before the Great Society (decades could go by without a shooting in your neighborhood). Chicago averages more homocides in a day than we had in the 1950s – NONE in my county in the whole decade! What's wrong with that? What's so hard to understand? Mrs. Clinton once said that she couldn't understand what was so good about the fifties.

HAVE YOU EVER MET A FARMER? If you're young, cosmopolitan and "hot," probably not, but somewhere in your family tree was a farmer no doubt. Somewhere in your DNA is a little horse sense. If you're young and reading a RenewAmerica column, that's a good sign, but the bad news is: Big Education is trying to "breed out" the common sense by rewriting history in the name of societal "evolution." In Topsy-Turveydom – the ivy covered ivory towers – "50s" is a four-letter word, and American exceptionalism "never happened." I'm writing today to tell you that it did (I have to use the past tense, because the jury is still out on the future).

Exceptionalism just meant "unique." Originally the Americanism culture was a cross between our agrarian side and the olde English Tory thinkers. In the terminology of husbandry, it was the kind of crossing that produced a "hybrid vigor." A very good thing. Our "Twin Towers" were Religion and civil Liberty (faith and works, or Freedom put to good use by rich and poor alike). Tom Paine, lowly bartender and corset-maker rubbing shoulders with the landed but home-schooled gentry. We're talking foundings and Founders here. Pillars. Twin Towers joined by the Keystone of Deity. Washington refusing a kingship; Jefferson not even mentioning "President" on his tombstone epitaph. Humble yet paradoxically brilliant. Our Constitution was the expression of that original culture. An article in the National Review (June 21, 2010) said it well: "EXCEPTIONAL, Down to the Bone" (James Bennett excerpts follow). He analogized the American character as a physical anatomy:

"We can think of the deep things in our culture as its bones and the surface things as its flesh, with narratives we tell about ourselves as being the clothes [passing fads and fashions]." He says three bone-levels of culture include marriage practices, inheritance statutes and customs , plus the independent household (the young leave their father and mother, choose a mate, and move – sometimes across the country). Regarding the latter two traits, the writer says that "the only people who have this particular set of family practices are the other English-speaking countries . . since we inherited these features from England, even if our biological ancestors came from somewhere else." SO:

"The individual in the English-speaking world has always been psychologically more independent and less willing to place himself under the control of others. He expects to be on his own, with a spouse of his own . . English-speaking families have always been 'on their own' far more than families in other cultures. As a result, American families have always coped with a stronger sense of insecurity, always knowing that they had to work hard and make a go of things . .

"In sum, a person living in an individualistic society is less likely to believe his is entitled automatically to a share of anything, is less troubled by inequality, and is driven to provide for himself and his family through his own effort. . The parternalistic welfare state is a recent import to the English-speaking world, and in adopting it we have not been immune to the attraction of the (illusory) free lunch. . .

"[Studies] seem to explain both the limited success of such policies elsewhere and the fact that fascist and Communist movements failed to develop mass followings in
any English-speaking country. Americans appreciate their exceptionalism at gut level. This is where the American Right is in touch with the nation, and the Left is not; John F. Kennedy was probably the last Democratic president with an instinctive feeling for it . . . Success, both politically and in the cause of freedom, requires that we keep our enduring values in mind."

There's a lot of significance in that article, even for the non-religious, but our original "twin towers" were religion and civil liberty – neither of which can survive without the other. They made us "the exception to the rule."


Look down as well as up; look back as well as forward. Fashionable multi-culturalism, political correctness, and "value diversity" are killing us! Even if you live in a city, we Americans still have some common horse sense in our DNA (probably more than the Left realizes), and to "renew" means to get a new lease on life. RENEW AMERICA!

P.S. April 13th was Jefferson's birthday (few note it), so I want to close with a few Jefferson words from his first inaugural:

"If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it . . .

"Possessing a chosen country . . acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensation proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter – with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people?

"Still one thing more, fellow-citizens – a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."

[Submitted April 15th, tax day]

© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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